Trade Credit and Credit Rationing in Canadian Firms

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Burkart and Ellingsen's (2004) model of trade credit and bank credit rationing predicts that trade credit will be used by medium-wealth and low-wealth firms to help ease bank credit rationing. The author tests these and other predictions of Burkart and Ellingsen's model using a large sample of more than 28,000 Canadian firms. She uses an endogenous method to divide the firms into the appropriate wealth categories, rather than arbitrarily selecting firms likely to be credit rationed. The data support the main predictions of Burkart and Ellingsen's model quite well. The author finds that medium-wealth firms substitute trade credit for bank credit consistent with using it to alleviate bank credit rationing. The low-wealth firms use trade credit, but it is positively linked to their bank credit, which suggests that those firms are constrained in both bank credit and trade credit markets, and so cannot use trade credit to adjust as much to negative shocks. The findings also suggest that there are very few unconstrained, high-wealth Canadian firms. The author also finds that low-wealth, declining, and distressed firms supply proportionally more trade credit than firms that have healthier balance sheets. This is surprising, but has been found in earlier studies as well. It may reflect some exploitation of market power by the customers of such firms.